easy desserts & recipes: 9.0

Cherry Blossom Macaron It has been a year since Japan was hit by the catastrophic 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that has claimed so many lives, demolished thriving towns, and destroyed the Fukushima Power Plant that triggered worldwide distress. Japan’s economy has since then gotten back on its feet. Over the past months, the economy has grown an estimate of 2% just this first quarter of 2012. The Nikkei Average Index improved by 14%, the northeast coast towns are rebuilding and starting to attract new businesses. Sendai is now in the building boom process. These are all remarkable achievements that display the determination and resilience of people. Slowly but ever so surely, the country is picking up the pieces. Businesses are starting to get back on track, the tourism industry is gaining momentum, life has moved on… but has it really? A year after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, I still find it difficult to relive the tragic event. Oftentimes, when we hear of such things happening elsewhere in the world, we somehow feel safe and detached in our own bubble of a life until such time that we too are faced with such an event and suddenly our whole bubble explodes and reality sets in. Reality is such a hard bitter fact to confront head on. It’s like a hard slap in the face that wakes us up. We have no choice in the matter, we really have to look it straight in the eye, grit our teeth, and pray! There is a point in life where we have to confront such unspeakable things. It’s exactly these encounters that can make or break us. These defining moments change our lives. It has changed mine. I can say I live with a stigma. But each day the memory of that fateful day gets easier to push back into the recesses of my mind. It becomes a bitter aftertaste that sometimes regurgitates, but it becomes easier to swallow as the days go by. I happen to subconsiously gaze at my cell phone, with the digital time stamp reading back at me : 03-11-11 14:46 p.m. The eeriness of it all takes me back to the day the tsunami warning was going off. (sorry for the bad video quality, I grabbed the quickest camera near me at the time.) I'm a New Yorker, an East Coast gal living in Japan with my husband and family for well over a decade. We experienced loss. And the danger is still far from over, with a big chance of a large earthquake happening in Tokyo. There have been a lot of tremors these past few months, especially in Chiba, and in Ibaraki (plus surrounding areas). We don't buy produce or anything from these areas, because who knows, those who will argue it's okay to get produce that have high levels of radiation might not feel the same 10 years later. Rather than take a gamble, we'll be cautious. These surround areas are being battered, constant tremors, radiation fears, so on, and so forth. I can sit back and easily say "I'm so glad I'm not living there" and perhaps, that is part of human nature, but I must thank my lucky stars. After returning back to Japan, bruised, But still, we have managed to start over, as countless of others have done. Watching the people of Japan during the healing and rebuilding process makes me feel so much a part of the country that I have come to call my own. Having witnessed firsthand the tragedies of the past year has allowed me to see that in just one sweep of nature’s wrath, all can be obliterated. This has given me humility. I have also seen how the strength of people can truly withstand anything. This has given me hope. I am a much better person having known such, and yes, life goes on and it is ever more beautiful. Where to buy Cherry Blossom ingredients for cooking: (International shipping available) 1. Cherry Blossom Honey Syrup 2. Sakura (Cherry Blossom Extract) (English here). You can find this at Amazon Japan as well. 3. Cherry Blossom Leaf Powder can be used in baked goods, (this is where all the flavor comes from)
Cherry Blossom Parisan Macaron's Partially Adapted from Cookpad (Chan Nanamama) (using a scale is a must, after switching to a scale, I never went back to using cups). Egg white 37 ~ 40g Granulated sugar 30g Almond powder 50g Powdered sugar 50g Cherry Blossom Essence Flavor (extract) Cherry Blossom Buttercream Granulated sugar 30g Water 1 tablespoon 1 yolk 75 g unsalted butter Salt 1g 1 teaspoon of Sakura Flavor Directions: Preheat oven to 180c (Bake for Five minutes, then turn down to 140c and bake for 10 minutes). Prepare on baking paper a 3.5cm diameter circle. Wisk the egg whites while gradually adding the granulated sugar and powdered sugar. Whip until you have meringue (soft peak). Next you'll create the (Macaronage) step. Add the almond powder (flour) Cherry blossom extract and you'll mix the batter until the batter slowly falls from your spatula. Use the diameter guide you'll pipe the macaron batter onto the baking sheets or sil pat (allow the shell to dry before baking) For the French Buttercream: Butter should be room temperature, using the mixer on high, beat the butter and egg yolk. Place the water and sugar in a sauce pan and cook until it reaches 110c, transfer to the mixing bowl. If you prefer the egg white recipe here is a wonderful video tutorial. If you want your buttercream stiffer, you can add a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar.
Photography Data: Featured: Ruth Black ApertureFNumber: f/4.0 Make: Canon Model: Canon EOS 450D ExposureTime: 1/6 FNumber: 4/1 ExposureProgram: 3 ISOSpeedRatings: 100 MaxApertureValue: 3/1 MeteringMode: 5 Flash: 16 Macaron
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  • March 12, 2012 at 10:07 am //

    GORGEOUS photo and lovely post – it’s amazing what good can come out of tragedy – thanks!

    • March 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm //

      Thank you so much for your kinds words.

  • March 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm //

    So beautiful!

    • March 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm //

      Thank you Tammy for commenting = )

  • March 13, 2012 at 1:22 am //

    That picture is breathtaking! I have never made macarons before and I have seen it being made on Masterchef Australia and a couple of other food shows and know they are difficult to make. Those macarons look perfectly made and adore the colour of the cherry blossom buttercream.

    • March 13, 2012 at 8:20 am //

      I have used so many recipes, that the one below works the best for me, and a scale is a must, it really depends on your oven, I still, to this day test one before baking the batch, my oven seems to have a mind of its own.

  • March 13, 2012 at 1:43 am //

    Wonderful sentiment that you expressed in this post. Very thoughtful. Thanks for that, and an (as usual) great recipe. The soft light and dreamy out-of-focus background on the photo is wonderful. Thanks.

    • March 13, 2012 at 8:19 am //

      Thank you so much for commenting. Have you tried Cherry Blossom flavor in desserts? It’s such a rare find it seems outside of Japan, we are thinking about giving away a bottle. It’s hard to express what happened on that tragic day, thank you for reading.

  • March 13, 2012 at 2:31 am //

    These are stunning! I adore macarons, and the pink sugar is a perfect touch :)

    • March 13, 2012 at 9:31 am //

      Have you tried cherry blossom flavor Kiri?

  • March 13, 2012 at 2:52 am //

    These macaroons look so pretty…and delicate that I would be in two minds before biting into them!! Beautiful post

    • March 13, 2012 at 8:16 am //

      Thank you so much for commenting.

  • March 13, 2012 at 3:08 am //

    Beautiful post and the macaron looks delicious with 2 beautiful color combination. Awesome picture too :) way tooo tempted.

    • March 13, 2012 at 8:16 am //

      Cherry blossom extract has such a unique flavor, I use it in buttercream, cupcakes, although it’s such a rare find.

  • March 13, 2012 at 6:30 am //

    So beautiful! Love the flavors of this mac!

    • March 13, 2012 at 8:15 am //

      Hi Ambika, we are going to give away a bottle of Cherry Blossom Flavor this spring = )

  • March 13, 2012 at 6:58 pm //

    These macarons are just breathtaking. Beautiful work.

    • March 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm //

      Thank you so much for commenting Rachelbee.

  • March 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm //

    Wow – these are beautiful! I’ve never heard of cherry blossom flavoring, but it sounds delicious!

    • March 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm //

      Hi Eva, it seems like such a hard find outside of Japan (But Monin sells it, but I think that is Monin France, where I got mine). We will be holding a Cherry Blossom Extract Give away = )

  • March 14, 2012 at 2:30 am //

    This is a sweet and thoughtful gesture. The macarons look incredible–nice and mile-high!

    • March 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm //

      Thank you so much for commenting, and for the kind comment.

  • March 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm //

    this is so beautiful….beautiful macarons and the pink is so sweet :) Love the photos…nice!

    • March 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm //

      Thank you so much for commenting Elin.

  • March 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm //

    Those macarons look amazing and sound incredible too! It’s wonderful to hear Japan is on the mend, I can’t imagine the loss and pray for continued hope.

    • March 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm //

      Thank you Rachel, so kind of you to say, we are on the mend but we still pray for those who lost loved one’s.

  • March 15, 2012 at 9:20 am //

    I’ve stumbled across this beautiful picture of cherry blossom macaron, my mouth fell open right away. The text and the macarons reminds me that we should never forget those kind of event.
    Dear Myfudo, you’ve listed links to get sakura flovring outside Japan, but as I can see in your comments, you found yours via Monin France. Correct me if I’m wrong. Do you mind give me the link for Monin France? I’d love to try your macaron and since I live in France, if Monin sells it I NEED it :) By the way, will sakura powder do the same effect in the macaron shell Thanks for your kind response

    • March 15, 2012 at 10:53 am //

      Hi Kara:

      The Cherry Blossom Monin, that is correct, here is the link http://france.monin.com/sirop/cherry-blossom-monin#/sirop/cherry-blossom-monin, I’m not sure if it’s a temporary product, but they sell them in some of the coffee shops. http://www.moninshopping.com/monin-et-boissons-chaudes.php I don’t see it listed on the shopping site any longer, but you could give them a call or see their shop list and find one near you. The Cherry Blossom syrup has to be reduced, that brings out more flavor. If I had to choose from all three, I would really use the extract, it’s more potent and the flavor comes through. If you can get the extract from Japan, that would be great, and it last at least two years = )

  • March 15, 2012 at 11:47 am //

    Thank you for the quick response! I’ll give Monin a try. If not working, rakuten or amazon.co.jp will do the trick!

    • March 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm //

      Please let us know how it works out Kara.

  • March 20, 2012 at 11:55 pm //

    Well, Monin didn’t work out for me. They no longer sell the cherry blossom syrup. For those who live in France and wanted to be buy sakura stuff on rakuten AND amazon.co.jp, well too bad for us too. They don’t deliver to France (don’t know about other country, I didn’t try sorry) Anyway, I found a way too get those beauties on my own country :) workshopisse.fr actually sell them AND ship to ANY countries. Hope I could help a little :)